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Bible Commentaries
John 10

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Second Cycle: Chapts. 9 and 10.

The consequences of the first point of departure, the healing of the impotent man, chap. 5, are exhausted. A new miracle produces a renewed breaking out of hatred among the Jews and calls forth a new phase of the conflict. Nevertheless, one feels that the worst of the conflict is past. The people of Judea, those even who had shown themselves for a moment disposed to believe, are offended, like the Galileans, at the absolute spirituality of the promises of Jesus. He begins from this time to abandon that lost community to its blindness; He labors especially to the end of gathering about Himself the small number of those who are to form the nucleus of the future community. So the incisive character of the preceding conversations gives place to the tone of resignation and of saddened love.

1. Chap. 9: a new miracle opens the second cycle;

2. Chap. John 10:1-21: with this miracle is connected a first discourse, and then the representation of its immediate effects;

3. Chap. John 10:22-42: a second discourse, which, although given a little later and at another visit, is, in respect to its subject, only a continuation of the first; finally, a brief historical notice.

Verses 1-5

Vv. 1-5. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you that he who does not enter by the door into the sheep-fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3. To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by their name and leads them out. 4. And when he has put forth all his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice; 5 they will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him, because they know not the voice of strangers.

This picture deserves the name of allegory rather than that of parable. In the parable, there is a story which assumes a form independent up to a certain point of the moral application; in the allegory, the application makes itself felt immediately through every feature of the representation: the image does not take a form independent of the thought. The parable is a picture, the allegory a transparency. The Synoptics also present pictures of this sort; for example, that of the leaven and the grain of mustard-seed.

It has been supposed that the figures employed here by Jesus must have been borrowed from the spectacle which He had before His eyes at this very moment; that it was the hour when the shepherds brought back their flocks from the surrounding country into the city of Jerusalem; and this supposition might be extended to the second picture by holding that Jesus was near the sheep-gate when He uttered the words of John 10:7 ff. These suppositions have no impossibility. But as Jesus, in the preceding discourses, has applied to Himself several theocratic symbols, it is possible that He continues the same method. David invoked the Lord as his shepherd (Psalms 23:0). Jehovah, in His highest manifestation, as Messiah, was represented by the prophets as the shepherd of Israel: Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:0; Zechariah 11:0. The last passage in particular offers a quite remarkable analogy to the present situation. Like the shepherd of Zechariah, Jesus at this moment, after having vainly sought to gather Israel, renounces the hope of saving the nation; and leaving to the Pharisees (the foolish shepherd of whom Zechariah speaks) the direction of the main portion of the flock, He confines himself to bringing out of this fold which is about to be destroyed the few poor sheep who, like this blind man, look to Him.

Lucke correctly observes that the formula amen, amen, never begins anything altogether new. It unites closely what follows with what precedes, either as a confirmation or as an antithesis. A sheep-fold in the East is not a covered building, like our stables: it is a simple inclosure, surrounded by a palisade or wall. The sheep are taken into it in the evening. Several flocks are ordinarily brought together in such an inclosure. The shepherds, after having committed them to the care of a common keeper, the porter, who, during the night, is charged with watching over their safety, return to their homes; in the morning, they return and knock at the door of the inclosure which is strongly fastened; the keeper opens it. They then separate each one his own sheep, by calling to them, and after having gathered their flock lead them to pasturage.

As for robbers, it is by climbing the wall of the inclosure that they try to enter into the fold. To recall to mind these details which Bochart has described in his Hierozoicon, and which are confirmed by modern travelers, is almost to have explained our allegory. It is impossible for me to understand how Weiss can deny that the sheepfold denotes the theocracy, or more exactly the Kingdom of God in its preparatory form. According to him, this figure does not have in itself any value and is only a condition for the setting forth of two different ways of acting, that of the shepherd and that of the robbers, which are to be described. But Joh 10:16 says quite plainly that Israel is the αὐλή , the inclosure of the sheep. There is a shade of difference between the κλεπτής or thief and the ληστής or robber; the second term suggests a more marked degree of violence and audacity than the first. The one steals, the other slaughters. Jesus means to describe thereby the audacity full of cunning with which the Pharisees had succeeded in establishing their authority in the inclosure of the people of God, beyond the limits of any charge instituted by God. Nothing in the law, indeed, justified the mission which this party had arrogated to itself in Israel, and the despotic power which it exercised. In opposition to this unauthorized ministry, the figure of the door quite naturally designates the legitimate entrance, consequently a divinely instituted function in the context, especially the Messianic office announced and prefigured in the whole of the Old Testament.

We need not allow ourselves to be turned aside from this altogether natural sense of the figure, as it results from the contrast between John 10:1-2, by the declaration of Jesus in John 10:7. That verse is not the explanation of the present parable; it is the beginning of a new parable in which different, although analogous, figures are freely employed in the service of an altogether different idea. Some interpreters,Lucke, Meyer, Reuss, Luthardt, etc., regard the door in this first parable as representing the person of the Lord Himself. Consequently they see in the shepherds who enter in by the door the true leaders of the sheep, who are introduced to them by Jesus. But with what fitness would Jesus proceed to speak here of the future pastors of His Church? Still if the disciples had played a part in the preceding narrative, this might help us to understand an anticipation which is so improbable! The door represents the Messianic office divinely instituted and forming the legitimate entrance into the theocracy prepared for its normal leader, the shepherd, that is to say, the Messiah. Undoubtedly, the word ποιμήν , shepherd, is in the Greek without an article, and consequently an adjective word. It designates the quality, not the individual: he who enters as shepherd (opposed to: as robber). But this form does not at all prevent the application of this figure to Jesus ( Joh 10:12 ).

He who comes in the character of shepherd has no need, like a robber, to scale the wall of the inclosure: the porter opens to him. Who is this porter? Quite naturally: he who is charged by God with introducing the Messiah into His divine office. Can it be, as Bengel, Hengstenberg and Gess think, the Father, who draws souls to the Son ( Joh 6:44 )? But God, the owner of the flock, cannot be fitly represented as a servant of an inferior order, subordinate to the shepherd himself. According to Stier and Lange, He is the Holy Spirit: the same objection. Moreover, Jesus must designate by this figure an historical function, a ministry as positive as that of the Messiah Himself. According to Chrysostom, he is Moses, inasmuch as the law leads to Christ. This is very far fetched and refined. Lampe understood by the porter all those who were expecting Christ in Israel, and more especially John the Baptist. It seems to me that the nature of things and the beginning of our Gospel prove very clearly that Jesus, in expressing Himself in this way, thought of the forerunner and of the forerunner only. God had raised up John the Baptist expressly to point out the Messiah to the people and to introduce Him into their midst: “There appeared a man sent from God to bear testimony to the light, to the end that all might believe through him ” ( Joh 1:6-7 ). It was he whose testimony had brought to Jesus His first believing followers, and should have opened to Him the heart of the whole people. As to those who, like Lucke, de Wette, Meyer, Luthardt, Weiss, see in this point only an embellishment of the picture without application, there is no argument, properly so called, to oppose them. This is a matter of feeling. My impression is that every point in this picture answers to an historical reality.

It is not only the mode of entrance which distinguishes the shepherd from the robber; it is also the manner in which, when he has once entered, he acts towards the flock. The robber lays hold of the sheep by violent measures; the shepherd simply makes them hear his voice, and his sheep, immediately recognizing it, separate themselves from among those which belong to other shepherds and come to gather around him. The words: the sheep hear his voice, might refer to all the sheep contained in the inclosure, and the words which follow: his own sheep, apply solely to the sheep of the Messiah.

But the expression: hear his voice, is used throughout all this passage in too internal a sense to apply to the purely outward hearing, as would be the case with the first sense. It appears to me, therefore, that it is better to apply the first words of Joh 10:3 already to the sheep of the Messiah in the theocracy, and that, if Jesus afterwards adds the epithet ἴδια ( his own), it is, not to distinguish them from the preceding, but to emphasize the altogether new value which they acquire for His heart, when once, through the act of faith, they have really become His. These remarkable expressions rest upon the fact that between the voice of the Messiah and the heart of believers there exists a pre- established harmony, in virtue of which they recognize Him immediately when He shows Himself and speaks. This fact of which the experience of the first disciples (chap. 1), as well as that of the whole Church, bears witness, is explained by what has been said in the Prologue of the original pouring forth of life and light from the Logos into the human soul (John 1:4; Joh 1:10 ). It was from such words as those of our passage that John had derived that profound thought.

The shepherd pronounces the particular name of each one of the sheep this is the sense of the reading φωςεῖ or he summons them to follow him by calling them by their name; this is what the reading καλεῖ signifies. In both cases, the question is of something more special than the general call to faith indicated by the words his voice. When they have once come to Him with faith, He gives them a sign of recognition and favor which is altogether personal. The name, in the Scriptures, is, as Hengstenberg says, the expression of the personality. This special designation which is given to each sheep is the proof of the most individual knowledge and the most intimate tenderness. Recall the name of Peter given to Simon ( Joh 1:43 ), and the apostrophe: Mary ( Joh 20:16 ), in which Jesus sums up all that Mary is to Him and all that He is to her. Recall also the “Believest thou? ” addressed to the blind man who was cured, John 9:35.

In the general picturing of the parable, the words: “ And he leads them out,” designate the act of the shepherd leading his flock to pasturage. But the question is whether this feature refers only to the care which every shepherd gives daily to his flock, or whether it is not intended here to describe a definite historical situation: the going forth of the Messianic flock from the theocratic inclosure devoted to ruin. This sense only seems to me to correspond to the idea of the entrance of the Messiah into the sheepfold. In this is a historical fact to which that of the going forth of the shepherd and his sheep answers. Reuss resorts to ridicule, as usual: “If,” he says, “the question were of making the believers go forth from the ancient theocracy, these same believers would be found two lines below entering it again” (alluding to John 10:9: will go in and go out). But this critic forgets that this last expression is borrowed from another parable, where the figures, as we shall see, take an altogether different meaning. Jesus has recognized the signal of the inevitable separation in the treatment to which the man who was born blind has been subjected, in his violent expulsion ( Joh 9:34 ), as well as in the decree of excommunication which strikes Him Himself in the person of his adherents ( Joh 9:22 ); in general, in the violent hostility of which He sees Himself to be the object (chaps. 7 and 8). And it is the result of this condition of things which He describes in the term to lead out, as in the words: he calls them, He had described the historical formation of His flock.

Thus the shepherd has called and then has given a mark of tenderness to the sheep who have come to gather themselves about him; and now he causes them to go forth from the inclosure where they had been shut up. The term ἐκβάλλειν , to drive, cast forth, John 10:4, sets forth with emphasis the principal idea of the passage, as we have just pointed it out. This word designates an energetic and almost rough act by which the shepherd helps the sheep, which still hesitates, to break away from the other sheep of the fold and to give itself up to the chances of the new existence which the shepherd's call opens before it. The rest of the verse describes the life of the Messianic flock, thus formed, in the spiritual pastures into which its divine leader introduces it, then the persevering fidelity of the sheep, of which that of the blind man has just offered an example, and finally the intimate relation which exists henceforth between these sheep and their shepherd. There is great tenderness in the words: “When he has put them forth, he goes before them. ” While they were still in the inclosure, he remained behind to put them forth, that there might not be a single one left ( πάντα , all, according to the Alexandrian text). But when the departure is once accomplished, He places Himself at their head, in order that He may lead the flock. We see how accurate are the slightest features of the picture. Οἴδασι , they know, means more than ἀκούει , they hear ( Joh 10:3 ); the latter term designated the acceptance of the first call; the other refers to the more advanced personal knowledge which results from daily intercourse. Hence it is, no doubt, that we have the plural οἴδασι following the singular forms which precede.

All along the way which the sheep follow, strange voices make themselves heard, on the right hand and the left, which seek to turn them aside from the steps of the shepherd; they are those of thieves who, not being able to play openly the part of robbers, use means of seduction or intimidation, as did the Pharisees in the preceding scene ( Joh 9:14-40 ). But they succeed no better in breaking the bond which has been formed, than these had succeeded by violence in preventing its formation. The sheep is for the future made familiar with the voice of the shepherd, so that every voice which is not his produces upon it a strange and repellant effect.

We have already refuted the interpretation of those who apply this picture to the pastors of the new covenant. Their principal reason (John 10:7: I am the door) has no weight, the two pictures being different, as we shall see. The figure changes, in any case, from the second to the third parable; comp. John 10:7: “I am the door;” and John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd.” Why not also from the first to the second? The application to Christian pastors wholly breaks the connection of the discourse, both with the preceding scene, and with the situation of the work of Christ at this moment, and finally with the representation of the development of the national unbelief which is the object of this whole part of the Gospel.

In this passage there comes out anew, in the clearest way, the idea of the organic unity of the Old and New Covenant, an idea of which Reuss and the Tubingen school assert that no trace is to be found in the fourth Gospel.

Verses 1-21

Second Section: 10:1-21. The First Discourse.

The following discourse includes three parables: that of the shepherd ( Joh 10:1-6 ), that of the gate ( Joh 10:7-10 ), and that of the good shepherd ( Joh 10:11-18 ); the section closes with an historical conclusion ( Joh 10:19-21 ). This discourse is not, like those of chaps. 5 and 6, the development of a theme relating to the person of Christ, and suggested by the miracle which had preceded. Jesus does not explain here, on occasion of the healing of the man born blind, how He is the light of the world ( Joh 10:4 ). But the discourse is, nevertheless, in close connection with the facts related in the preceding chapter; it is, properly speaking, only the reproduction of those facts in a parabolic form. The violent breaking in of the thieves into the sheepfold represents the tyrannical measures of the Pharisees in the theocracy, measures of which the ninth chapter has just presented a specimen; the attraction which the voice of the shepherd exercises upon the sheep and the fidelity with which they continue to follow his steps, recalls the simple and persevering faith of the blind man; finally, Jesus' action, full of tenderness towards this maltreated and insulted man, is found again in the picture of the good shepherd intervening on behalf of his sheep.

These three parables form three progressive pictures. On the occasion of the violent expulsion of the man born blind, Jesus sees the true Messianic flock separating itself from the ancient Israelitish community and grouping itself around Him; this is the first picture, John 10:1-6. Then, He describes the glorious prerogatives which, by His means, the flock once formed shall enjoy, in contrast to the cruel fate which is reserved for the ancient flock which remained under the egoistic and mischievous direction of its present leaders; this is the second picture, John 10:7-10. Finally, He places in a clear light the sentiment which is the soul of His Messianic ministry: disinterested love of the flock, in contrast to the mercenary spirit of the earlier shepherds; this is the third picture, John 10:11-18. We see that there is nothing vague or commonplace in these descriptions. They are the faithful reflection of the state of things at the very moment when Jesus was speaking. Thus three ideas: 1. The way in which the Messiah forms His flock; 2. The way in which He feeds it; 3. The motive which urges Him to act thus; and in each case, as a contrast, the description of the ministry opposed to His own, as the theocracy at that time presented the example of it.


Vv. 1-21.

1. Meyer says that the new chapter should begin with John 9:35. This is correct, at least so far as the close connection of the early verses of this chapter with John 9:35 ff. is concerned. This connection is manifest from the opening words of the chapter, there being no words of transition or indication of any other day or place. The figure which is employed is one which might easily be suggested by the circumstances, and needs no special explanation. The blind man's case illustrates that of the sheep which hears the voice of its own shepherd, while the action of the Pharisees is that of the thieves and robbers. This connection shows that, not only in John 10:1, but also in John 10:8, the persons referred to are those who, like the Pharisees, professed to be the religious guides and teachers of the people, but who were not in the prophetic line which ended in the coming of the true Messiah.

2. Godet holds that there are three parables in this passage that of the shepherd, that of the door, and that of the Good Shepherd. Perhaps it is more correct to say that there is one formal parable (comp. Joh 10:6 ), and that, while lingering within the sphere of this, Jesus presents Himself in two aspects which are easily suggested by it. The true explanation of Joh 10:8 is, again, indicated by this immediate connection of ideas. The thieves and robbers of Joh 10:8 are such as are not in union with Him and not in that Divine line in which He comes.

3. The parable, John 10:1-5, presents the two ideas of the door and the shepherd, as related to the matter of access to the sheep and their listening to the voice of the one who enters. Jesus afterwards declares that He is the door, and also that He is the shepherd (the Good Shepherd). The true view of the passage seems, therefore, to be this: that the matter is presented in a more general way at first, and then the more specific application is made afterwards. This blind man who had now been healed listens to Jesus and rejects the Pharisees, as the sheep listen to the voice of their own shepherd and flee from a stranger. He and all who have susceptibility to the truth recognize the teacher who brings it and refuse the one who does not. They are of the truth, and therefore they know it when they hear it. In the parable, accordingly, we may believe that the words door, etc., are to be regarded as belonging to the figurative representation only, the whole being designed to bring out the thought just mentioned. Only after Joh 10:6 are we to look for the individual and personal application of the particular words. The question which has been raised by some writers, therefore, as to a personal reference in θυρωρός of John 10:3 (whether to Moses, John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit, or some other), is at once set aside, no such reference being intended. This word does not occur in the part of the passage which follows John 10:6. This view of the passage, also, explains the last part of the sixth verse most satisfactorily. The Pharisees who were with Jesus, John 9:35 ff., did not understand as yet, because the parable was as yet presented in a general way. What follows is of the nature of an explanation, such as is added to the parables in some other cases. The word παροιμία does not seem to correspond exactly with παραβολή , which is used by the Synoptics, and in the present instance the preceding verses, to which it refers, contain an allegory rather than an ordinary parable of the narrative order.

4. The expression “I am the door of the sheep” ( Joh 10:7 ) may mean the door of entrance to the sheep, or the door for the sheep. The correspondence of εἰσέλθῃ with εἰσερχόμενος of Joh 10:2 favors the former view, but the words shall be saved, shall find pasture, and that they may have life point very strongly towards the other explanation. In a passage where there is such a manifest freedom in changing the thought from verse to verse (comp. John 10:9; Joh 10:11 ), it cannot be regarded as necessary to limit our interpretation of these expressions by those of John 10:2. If such limitation is not forced upon us, the argument derived from the other elements in the case leads to the conclusion that Jesus is speaking of the door by which the sheep may go in and go out. The opening of this door gives free access to the sources of life, which the sheep may find quietly and peacefully. But the thieves and robbers, who cannot open the door, but climb over the wall of the inclosure, come only to destroy.

5. The thought now turns to a comparison of Christ with the shepherd. The transition is apparently suggested, or is, at least, easily made through the words of the last clause of John 10:10. He is not only the shepherd, but the Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for the sheep. From the necessity of the case, this change from the figure of the door to that of the shepherd is accompanied by a change from the thief to the hireling, as representing the Pharisaic leaders. The sphere of thought now is that of dangers to the flock from enemies the shepherd protects them at the risk of life, the hireling flees. The repetition of the phrase lays down his life, in John 10:15; John 10:17-18, however, and the presentation of the same idea in other places in this Gospel, seem to indicate something more than this primary idea which belongs to the passage namely, a reference to the death which He was about to suffer for the redemption of His people. The reaching out of the thought to this greater idea is seen especially in the following verses, John 10:14 ff., where the relation of the shepherd and the sheep is more fully brought out with reference to the intimate knowledge which each has of the other, and the gift which the former makes for the latter.

6. It is in connection with this wider reach of the thought that the reference to the ingathering of the Gentiles is introduced in John 10:16. The παροιμία thus widens at the end into an application to the consummated kingdom of God in the world. Beginning with the comparison of Jesus Himself with the Pharisaic teachers, which was suggested by the case of this man who had been healed and then had believed, it terminates with a vision of the future which was to follow after Jesus' death and resurrection.

7. Joh 10:17-18 now add the thoughts which fundamentally belong to this matter of His sacrifice of Himself for the sheep that He lays down His life with the purpose of taking it again; that He does this voluntarily, and not by the greater force of another; that this power to lay it down and resume it He has as a prerogative belonging to Himself; that He does the whole work in accordance with the commission and command of His Father. The addition of these thoughts, which are naturally suggested as following upon what had been said in the development and explanation of the παροιμία , served to bring the minds of the hearers and the disciples back to what was set forth in ch. 8 of the relation of Jesus to the Father and His Divine origin, and in this way to complete the whole extended discourse from Joh 7:37 to this point. To the minds of the disciples, as they reflected upon this parable and what followed it especially as, in their subsequent remembrance of the words, they understood the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection and of the opening of the Gospel to the Gentiles, and as they came to know more fully in their own experience the union of soul between themselves and the Good Shepherd the words here recorded must have become, in a peculiar sense, an added proof that Jesus was the Son of God, the source of life. It cannot be thought strange, by any candid person, that the story of this blind man should have made an ineffaceable impression on the mind of John, and that the details of it and of the remarkable words which followed it should have been inserted by him among the signs which Jesus did in the presence of His disciples.

Verses 1-42


UP to this point, decided faith and unbelief have been only exceptional phenomena; the masses have remained in a state of passive indifference or of purely outward admiration. From this time, the situation assumes a more determinate character. Jesus continues to make known the Father, to manifest Himself as that which He is for humanity. This revelation meets with increasing hostility; the development of unbelief, becomes the predominating feature of the history. Faith indeed still manifests itself partially. But, in comparison with the powerful and rapid current which bears on the leaders and the entire body of the nation, it is like a weak and imperceptible eddy.

It is in Judea especially that this preponderant development of unbelief is accomplished. In Galilee opposition is, no doubt, also manifested; but the centre of resistance is at Jerusalem. The reason of this fact is easy to be understood. In this capital, as well as in the province of Judea which depends on it, a well-disciplined population is found, whose fanaticism is ready to support its rulers in every most violent action which their hatred may undertake. Jesus Himself depicts this situation in the Synoptics by that poignant utterance: “It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” ( Luk 13:33 ).

This observation explains the relatively considerable place which the journeys to Jerusalem occupy in our Gospel. The general tradition, which forms the basis of the three Synoptical Gospels, was formulated with a view to the popular preaching, and to serve the ends of the apostolic mission; consequently it set in relief the facts which were connected with the foundation of faith. What had not this issue had little importance for a narrative of this kind. Now, it was in Galilee, that province which was relatively independent of the centre, that the ministry of Jesus had especially displayed its creative power and produced positive results. In this generally simple and friendly region, where Jesus found Himself no more in the presence of a systematic and powerfully organized resistance, He could preach as a simple missionary, give free scope to those discourses inspired by some scene of nature, to those happy and most appropriate words, to those gracious parables, to those teachings in connection with the immediate needs of human consciousness; in a word, to all those forms of discourse which easily become the subject of a popular tradition. There was little engaging in discussion, properly so-called, in this region, except with emissaries coming from Judea (Matthew 15:1-12; Mark 3:22; Mark 7:1; Luke 5:17; Luk 6:1-7 ).

At Jerusalem, on the other hand, the hostile element by which Jesus found Himself surrounded, forced Him into incessant controversy. In this situation, no doubt, the testimony which He was obliged to give for Himself took more energetic forms and a sterner tone. It became more theological, if we may so speak; consequently less popular. This character of the Judean teaching, connected with the almost complete failure of its results, was the occasion of the fact that the activity displayed at Jerusalem left scarcely any trace in the primitive oral tradition. It is for this reason, undoubtedly, that the visits to that capital almost entirely disappeared from the writings which contain it, our Synoptics. The Apostle John, who afterwards related the evangelical history, and who had in view, not the practical work of evangelization, but the preservation of the principal testimonies which Jesus bore to Himself, as well as the representation of the unbelief and faith which these testimonies encountered, was necessarily led to draw the journeys to Jerusalem out of the background where they had been left. It was these visits in the capital which had prepared the way for the final catastrophe, that supreme event the recollection of which alone the traditional narrative had preserved. Each one of these journeys had marked a new step in the hardening of Israel. Designed to form the bond between the Messianic bridegroom and bride, they had served, in fact, only to hasten that long and complete divorce between Jehovah and His people, which still continues to this hour. We can understand that, from the point of view of the fourth Gospel, the journeys to Jerusalem must have occupied a preponderant place in the narrative.

Let us cast a glance at the general course of the narrative in this part. It includes three cycles, having, each one, as its centre and point of departure, a great miracle performed in Judea: 1. The healing of the impotent man at Bethesda, chap. John 5:2. That of the one who was born blind, chap. 9; 3. The resurrection of Lazarus, chap. 11. Each of these events, instead of gaining for Jesus the faith of those who are witnesses of it, becomes in them the signal of a renewed outbreaking of hatred and unbelief. Jesus has characterized this tragic result by the reproach, full of sadness and bitterness ( Joh 10:32 ): “ I have showed you many good works from my Father; for which of them do ye stone me? ” These are the connecting links of the narrative. Each one of these miraculous deeds is immediately followed by a series of conversations and discourses in connection with the sign which has given occasion for them; then, the discussion is suddenly interrupted by the voluntary removal of Jesus, to begin again in the following visit. Thus the strife which is entered upon in chap. 5, on occasion of the healing of the impotent man, is resumed in the visit of Jesus at the feast of Tabernacles (chaps. 7 and 8); thus also, the discourses which are connected with the healing of the one born blind are repeated, in part, and developed at the feast of dedication, in the second part of chap. 10. This arises from the fact that Jesus is careful, each time, to leave Jerusalem before things have come to the last extremity. Herein is the reason why the conflict which has broken out during one visit re-echoes also in the following one.

The following, therefore, is the arrangement of the narrative: First cycle: In chap. 5, the strife, which had been vaguely hinted at in the first verses of chap. 4, commences in Judea in consequence of the healing of the impotent man; after this, Jesus withdraws into Galilee and allows the hatred of the Jews time to become calm. But in Galilee also, He finds unbelief, only in a different form. In Judea, they hate Him, they desire to put Him to death; in Galilee, His discontented adherents confine themselves to going away from Him (chap. 6). There did not exist there the stimulant of active hatred, jealousy: unbelief arose only from the carnal spirit of the people, whose aspirations Jesus did not satisfy. With the journey to the feast of Tabernacles (chap. 7), the conflict begun in chap. 5 is resumed in Judea, and reaches in chap. 8 its highest degree of intensity.

Such is the first phase (chaps. 5-8). Chap. 9 opens the second cycle. The healing of the one born blind furnishes new food for the hatred of the adversaries; nevertheless, in spite of their growing rage, the struggle already loses somewhat of its violence, because Jesus voluntarily withdraws from the field of battle. Up to this time, He had sought to act upon the hostile element; from this moment onward, He gives it over to itself. Only, in proportion as He breaks with the ancient flock, He labors to recruit the new one. The discourses which are connected with this second phase extend as far as the end of chap. 10 The third cycle opens with the resurrection of Lazarus; this event brings to its highest point the rage of the Jews, and impels them to an extreme measure; they formally decree the death of Jesus; and, soon afterwards, His royal entrance into Jerusalem, at the head of His followers (chap. 12), hastens the execution of this sentence. This last phase includes chaps. Joh 11:1 to John 12:36. Here Jesus completely abandons Israel to its blindness, and puts an end to His public ministry: “ And departing, He hid himself from them. ” The evangelist pauses at this tragical moment, and, before continuing his narrative, he casts a retrospective glance on this mysterious fact of the development of Jewish unbelief, now consummated. He shows that this result had in it nothing unexpected, and he unveils the profound causes of it: John 12:37-50.

Thus the dominant idea and the course of this part, are distinctly outlined

1. chap. 5-8: The outbreak of the conflict;

2. chap. 9, 10: The growing exasperation of the Jews;

3. chap. 11, 12: The ripe fruit of this hatred: the sentence of death for The progress of this narrative is purely historical. The attempt, often renewed even by Luthardt to arrange this part systematically according to certain ideas, such as life, light and love, is incompatible with this course of the narrative which is so clearly determined by the facts. It is no less excluded by the following observations: The idea of life, which, according to this system, must be that of chaps. 5 and 6, forms again the basis of chaps. 10 and 11. In the interval (chaps. 8, 9), the idea of light is the dominant one. That of love does not appear till chap. 13, and this in an entirely different part of the Gospel. Divisions like these proceed from the laboratory of theologians, but they do not harmonize with the nature of apostolic testimony, the simple reflection of history. The real teaching of Jesus had in it nothing systematic; the Lord confined Himself to answering the given need, which was for Him, at each moment, the signal of the Father's will. If in chap. 5. He represents Himself as the one who has the power to raise from the dead, spiritually and physically, it is because He has just given life to the limbs of an impotent man. If in chap. 6, He declares Himself the bread of life, it is because He has just multiplied the loaves. If in chaps. 7 and 8, He proclaims Himself the living

Jesus. water and the light of the world, it is because the feast of Tabernacles has just recalled to all minds the scenes of the wilderness, the water of the rock and the pillar of fire. We must go with Baur, to the extent of claiming that the facts are invented in order to illustrate the ideas, or we must renounce the attempt to find a rational arrangement in the teachings of which these events are, each time, the occasion and the text.

Verse 6

Ver. 6. “ Jesus spoke this similitude to them; but they did not understand what that meant which he spoke to them.

The word, παροιμία , similitude, properly designates a by-path, hence an enigmatical discourse. It is sometimes used in the translation of the LXX. to render maschal; it is taken in the sense of proverb in 2 Peter 2:22. The idea of a comparison is not so expressly brought out in this term as in the term παραβολή (see Westcott). The forcible expression τίνα ἦν , what was, for what meant, is derived from the fact that the true essence of a word is its meaning. They did not understand; because it was morally impossible for them to apply to the Pharisees the figure of thieves and robbers.

Verses 7-10

Vv. 7-10. “ Jesus therefore spoke to them again, saying, Verily, verily I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8. All those who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9. I am the door: if any one enters in by me, he shall be saved; and he shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture. 10. The thief comes not but to steal and to kill and to destroy; I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly.

Jesus has described the simple and easy way in which the Messiah forms His flock, in contrast with the arbitrary and tyrannical measures by which the Pharisees had succeeded in getting possession of the theocracy; He now depicts, in a new allegory, which has only a remote relation in form to the preceding (comp. the two parables which follow each other in Mark; that of the sower and that of the ear of corn, John 4:3 ff., John 5:26 ff.) what He will be to His flock when once formed and gathered, the abundance of the salvation which He will cause them to enjoy, as opposed to the advantage taken of the old flock by those intruders and the destruction to which they are leading them. The word πάλιν , again ( Joh 10:7 ), was wrongly rejected by the Sinaitic MS.; the copyist thought that this picture was only a continuation of the preceding (because of the analogy of the figures). This is likewise held by some modern interpreters, but, as we shall see, is untenable. Πάλιν indicates therefore, as in Luke 13:20 (where it is placed between the parables of the grain of mustard seed and of the leaven; comp. Matthew 13:44-45; Mat 13:47 ), that Jesus adds still another parable to the preceding.

The picture John 10:1-5, which described the formation of the Messianic flock and its going forth from the theocratic inclosure, was borrowed from a morning scene; the second similitude, John 10:7-10, which describes the life full of sweetness of the flock when once formed and everything which it enjoys through the intermediation of the Messiah, places us at mid-day. In the pasturage is an inclosure where the sheep enter and whence they go out at will. If they seek for shelter, they retire to it freely. If hunger impels them, they go forth for the gate is constantly open for them and they find themselves in full pasturage. They have thus at their pleasure security and food, the two blessings essential to the prosperity of the flock. In this new figure, the person of the shepherd entirely disappears. It is the door which plays the principal part. The inclosure here no longer represents the old covenant; it is the emblem of the perfectly safe shelter of salvation. Lucke, Meyer, Luthardt, Weiss, Keil explain the words: I am the door of the sheep, in this way: I am the door for coming to the sheep, the door by which the true shepherds enter into the midst of the flock. But in this sense the words refer either to the shepherds of the old covenant or to those of the new. In the former case, we must suppose that the ἐγώ , I, designates the I of the Logos as a spirit governing the theocracy. Who can admit a sense like this? In the second, it has no fitness of any kind. Moreover, this sense is very forced. The term: door of the sheep, naturally means; the door which the sheep use for their own going in and going out ( Joh 10:9 ).

The privilege, represented by the use which the sheep make of the door, is that which Jesus gives the believing Israelites to enjoy, by furnishing them, like the one born blind, everything which can assure their rest and salvation. Reuss himself, abandoning the relation established by him ( Joh 10:1-2 ) between the two parables, says: “Yet once more Jesus calls Himself the door, but this time He is so for the flock itself” (thus: no longer for the shepherd, as in the first parable).

The persons designated in Joh 10:8 as thieves and robbers can only be the Pharisees ( Joh 10:1 ). They are characterized here from the point of view, no longer of the manner in which they have established their power in the theocracy, but of the end in view of which they exercised it and of the result which they will obtain thereby. Not only had this audacious caste unlawfully taken possession, in the midst of the people of God, of the most despotic authority, but they were still using it only in a way to satisfy their egoism, their ambition and their cupidity. Hence follows the explanation of the expression, so variously interpreted: All those who are come before me. Whatever certain Gnostic writers may have said in former times or Hilgenfeld may even now say in his desire to make our Gospel a semi-Gnostic writing, Jesus certainly could not thus speak of Moses and the prophets, and of any legitimate theocratic authority. The constant language of the evangelist protests against such an explanation (John 5:39; John 5:45-47; John 6:45; John 10:34-35, etc.). The verb εἰσί ( are), in the present tense, shows clearly that He has in view persons who were now living. If He says ἦλθον , came, and πρὸ ἐμοῦ , before me, it is because He found them already at work when He began His own working in Israel. The term come indicates with relation to them, as with relation to Jesus, the appearance with the purpose of exercising the government of souls among the people of God. The parable of the vine-dressers in the Synoptics is the explanation of this saying of Jesus.

This interpretation of the first words of Joh 10:8 follows from the context and enables us to set aside, without any long discussion, the numerous, more or less divergent, interpretations which have been proposed; that of Camerarius, who took πρὸ ἐμοῦ in a local sense: “passing before and outside the door,” that of Wolf and Olshausen, who gave to πρό the sense of χωρίς : “separating themselves from me, the true door;” those of Lange who understands πρό in the sense of ἀντί : “in my place,” and Calov, who makes the expression before me signify: “before I had sent them;” that of Gerlach: “before the door was opened in my person;” as well as that of Jerome, Augustine, Melanchthon, Luthardt: “came of themselves, without having received a mission;” finally, that of Chrysostom and many others even to Weizsacker : “came as false Messiahs.” History does not mention any case of a false Messiah before the coming of Jesus. There is no need of renouncing, with Tholuck and de Wette, the possibility of any satisfactory solution, and declaring, with the latter, that this saying does not answer to the habitual gentleness and moderation of Jesus. As to the variant which rejects the words πρὸ ἐμοῦ , before me ( א and others), it is only an attempt to do away with the difficulty.

The present εἰσί , are, indicates with sufficient clearness that we need not go far to find these persons. The last words: The sheep did not hear, remind us of the profound dissatisfaction which was left in the hearts of a multitude of Israelites by the Pharisaic teaching. John 6:68: “ To whom shall we go?Matthew 11:28-30: “ Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ” The man who was born blind was a striking example of these souls whom the Pharisaic despotism roused to indignation in Israel.

In opposition to these pretended saviours who will be found to be in reality only murderers, Jesus renews in Joh 10:9 His affirmation: I am the door; then He develops it. Meyer and Luthardt maintain here their explanation of John 10:7, according to which Jesus is the door by which the true shepherd enters into the presence of the flock. They do not allow themselves to be held back either by the σωθήσεται , shall be saved, which they understand in the sense of 1 Timothy 4:16: “Thou shalt both save thyself and them with thyself,” nor by the νομὴν εὑρήσει , shall find pasture, which they apply to the discovery by the shepherd of good pasturage for the flock! Weiss and Keil acknowledge the impossibility of such interpretations and, resting upon the omission in Joh 10:9 of the complement τῶν προβάτων , of the sheep (comp. Joh 10:7 ), they adopt a modification in the meaning of the word θύρα , door, and think that it is now the door by which the sheep themselves can go in and go out. But the repetition of this declaration: I am the door, is simply introduced by the antithesis presented in John 10:8, absolutely as the second declaration: I am the good shepherd, John 10:14 (comp. Joh 10:11 ) will be by the antithesis presented in John 10:13. This is shown by the two ἐγώ at the beginning of John 10:9; John 10:14.

There is here then no new idea. There is a more energetic reaffirmation of the same thought; and the omission of the complement of the sheep results quite naturally from the uselessness of such a repetition. By saying: If any one enters in by me, Jesus means to speak of the entrance into the state of reconciliation, of participation in the Messianic salvation by faith. Reuss: “Jesus is come to open to His own the door of refuge, by receiving them into His arms. The expression go in and go out does not mean that the sheep will go out of salvation to enter into it again. This is what Reuss would be obliged to hold, however, if he were consistent with the objection which he makes to the interpretation which we have given of John 10:3. These two verbs only develop the contents of the word σωθήσεται , shall be saved. To go in and go out is an expression frequently employed in the Scriptures to designate the free use of a house, into which one goes or from which one departs unceremoniously, because one belongs to the family of the house, because one is at home in it (Deuteronomy 28:6; Jeremiah 37:4; Act 1:21 ). To go in expresses the free satisfaction of the need of rest, the possession of a safe retreat; to go out, the free satisfaction of the need of nourishment, the easy enjoyment of a rich pasturage (Psalms 23:0). This is the reason why the word shall go out is immediately followed by the words which explain it: and shall find pasture.

Verse 10

Ver. 10. From the idea of pasture Jesus deduces that of life; He even adds to this that of superabundance, of superfluity. By this He certainly does not designate, as Chrysostom thought, something more excellent than life, glory, for example; but He means to say that the spiritual pasturage will contain still more nourishment than that which the sheep can take to itself; comp. John 6:12-13, and the expressions: fulness, grace upon grace, John 1:16. Such is the happy condition of the Messianic flock; Jesus puts it in contrast with the terrible fate reserved for the mass of the people which remains under the leadership of the Pharisees. After having served for the satisfaction of their pride, ambition and cupidity, they will perish morally, and at last even externally by the effect of this pernicious guidance. It seems that the three verbs express a gradation: κλέψῃ ( steal), the monopoly of souls; θύσῃ ( kill) the advantage taken of them and their moral murder; ἀπολέσῃ ( destroy), the complete destruction which is to result from it all this as an antithesis to the salvation through the Messiah ( Joh 10:9-10 ). To understand such severe expressions, we must recall to mind the measures of this haughty sect in Israel. The Pharisees disposed as masters of the Divine kingdom: they assumed the attitude of accredited intercessors, distributed the certificates of orthodoxy, and caused even the legitimate rulers to tremble (John 12:42; Matthew 23:13-14, and in general the whole chapter, and Luke 11:39; Luk 11:44 ).

Verses 11-13

Vv. 11-13. “ I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. 12. But the hireling, who is not a shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong, sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters the flock. 13. But the hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care for the sheep.

The first picture was all resplendent with the fresh tints of the morning; the second depicted the life and activity of the flock during the course of the day; the third seems to place us at the moment when the shadows of the night are spreading, and when the sheep, brought back to the common inclosure by the shepherd, are suddenly exposed to the attack of the wolf which at evening lies in wait on their path. Jesus here appears again in His character as shepherd. But this third allegory is not confounded with the first. The governing element in the first was the contrast between the shepherd and the thief; in this one which we are about to study, it is the antithesis of the good shepherd and the hireling guardian. The salient feature is not, as in the first picture, the legitimacy of the Messianic mission, but the disinterested love which is the moving cause of it. It is this sentiment which makes Christ not only the shepherd, but the good shepherd.

The word καλός , beautiful, designates with the Greeks goodness, as the highest moral beauty. The sequel will show in what this beauty consists. This word καλός explains the article ὁ , the: He who perfectly realizes this sublime type. Then Jesus indicates the first trait of the character of this shepherd. It is love carried to the point of complete abnegation, even to the entire sacrifice of oneself. Some ( Meyer, Luthardt) find in the expression ψυχὴν τιθέναι (literally: to put his life) the idea of a pledge given: Jesus pledges His life as a ransom for ours. But this idea of a ransom is foreign to the imagery of the shepherd and the sheep, and still more to that of the wolf under which the enemy is represented.

This expression may be compared with that which we find in John 13:4: ἱμάτια τιθέναι , to lay aside his garments. The idea is that of laying down His life. Comp. Huther on 1 John 3:16. Keil, however, alleges against this second sense the words ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων , on behalf of the sheep. We must therefore give to τιθέναι the sense of: to place at the disposal of another, to surrender, to sacrifice; comp. John 13:37. In John 10:12, we must not add the article and translate, as Ostervald, Arnaud, Crampon do: who is not the shepherd. Jesus means: who is not a shepherd, who has the place of a hireling. It is not the owner of the flock who acts thus, but a hired servant to whom the owner has intrusted it. Whom did Jesus mean to designate by this person? No one, say some interpreters in reply, particularly Hengstenberg and Weiss: there is here an imaginary figure intended to make prominent by means of the contrast, that of the good shepherd. But in that case it would be strange for it to be described throughout two entire verses as the counterpart of that of the good shepherd, and as quite as real as the latter. Most of the interpreters think that this person repreents the Pharisees. But they would be presented here in too different a light from that in which they were depicted in the two preceding similitudes.

A cowardly guardian is a different thing from a robber and an assailant. And, if the hireling represents the Pharisees, who will then be typified by the wolf? According to Luthardt, this person is the principle hostile to the kingdom of God, the devil, acting by means of all the adversaries of the Church. But Jesus, in chap. 8, has completely identified Pharisaism with the diabolic principle. He cannot therefore represent the first here as a mere hireling, a cowardly friend, the other as a declared enemy. Lange, in his Life of Jesus, understands by the wolf the Roman power. But it was not really under the blows of the Roman power that Jesus fell. Meyer had at first applied the figure of the wolf to all anti-Messianic power, Pharisaism included; but the result of this was that the hireling fleeing before the wolf was the Pharisees fleeing before the Pharisees! He has accordingly abandoned this explanation in the 5th edition. The wolf represents, according to him, the future hireling shepherds in the midst of the Christian Church. But what could have led Jesus to express at that moment an idea like this, and how could His present hearers have caught a glimpse of this meaning? It seems to me that the figure is explained if we recall to mind, on the one hand, the fact that a μισθωτός is a servant for wages, and, on the other, that there were in the theocracy no other accredited and paid functionaries except the priests and Levites.

These were the ones to whom God had officially entrusted the instruction and moral guidance of His people. But, during the most recent times, the Pharisaic party had so far obtained the mastery over the minds of the people, by turning to their advantage the national pride, that whoever, even among the lawful rulers of the theocracy, did not submit to them, was immediately put under the ban and brought into discredit, as in our own days whoever in the Roman Church dares to cope with the spirit of Jesuitism. There were many, undoubtedly, in Israel who would have willingly maintained the truth of God. We have as a proof of this John 12:42, so far as relates to the rulers in general, and Acts 6:7, so far as relates to the priests in particular. But, like so many intelligent and pious bishops in the present Catholicism, they in a cowardly manner kept silent. One man alone had the courage to face this formidable conflict with the dominant party, and to expose His life for the maintenance of the divine truth and for the salvation of the sheep. The: Crucify! crucify! was the answer of Pharisaism, cut to the heart by the “ Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ” The wolf represents therefore the principle positively hostile to the kingdom of God and to the Messiah, the Pharisees; and the hireling, the legitimate functionaries who by their station were called to fulfill the task which Jesus accomplished by voluntary self-devotion, the priests and Levites, accredited doctors of the law. The passage John 9:16, had already given us a glimpse within the Sanhedrim itself of a party well disposed towards Jesus, but which did not dare openly to oppose the violent threats of the Pharisees against Him. Jesus presents here only the historical factors which have co- operated in the accomplishment of the decree of His death. He has nothing to say of the profound and divine reasons which presided over the decree itself. The word ἁρπάζει , snatches, applies to the individuals whom the wolf assails ( αὐτά ), while the action of σκορπίζειν , to scatter, extends to the entire flock: τὰ πρόβατα , the flock, a word which we must be careful not to reject with the Alexandrian authorities.

Verse 13

Ver. 13. The Alexandrian authorities reject the first words: “ but the hireling flees. ” In that case, the because which follows, refers not to the last two propositions of John 10:12, but to the one which precedes them: he flees. After having thus described the cowardly guardians, Jesus returns to the description of the good shepherd and his conduct towards the flock, and expressly applies to Himself ( ἐγώ , I, Joh 10:14 ) this figure.

Verses 14-16

Vv. 14-16. “ As for me, I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and I am known by my sheep; 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I give my life for the sheep. 16. And I have other sheep which are not of this fold; these also I must bring; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

The repetition of these words of John 10:11: I am the good shepherd, is introduced through the contrast with the figure of the hireling (comp. Joh 10:9 ); and the epithet good is explained here by a new point, that of the relation full of tenderness which unites Jesus and His sheep. It is on this second point that the first the self-devotion thus far described rests. The word to know does not mean: I distinguish them from the rest of the Jews ( Weiss). The import of this word is much more profound; and the meaning distinguish is not suitable in the three following sayings. Jesus penetrates with the eye of His loving knowledge the entire interior being of each one of the sheep, and perfectly discerns all which He possesses in them. For there is a close relation between this verb “ I know,” and the possessive “ my sheep.” This knowledge is reciprocal. The believers also know what their shepherd is, all that He feels and all that He is willing to do for them. They thus live in the untroubled light of a perfect mutual knoweldge.

From this intimate relation between Him and His sheep, Jesus goes back to that which is at once the model and source of it: His relation to the Father. The term καθώς , as (literally, according as) does not express a simple comparison, as ὥσπερ , as, would do. This word characterizes the knowledge which unites Jesus with his sheep as being of the same nature as that which unites Him to God. It is as if the luminous medium in which the heart of the Son and the heart of the Father meet each other, were enlarged so as to become that in which the heart of Jesus and that of His sheep meet each other. The καί signifies: “And consequently.” It is in virtue of this relation of such intimate knowledge that He consents to give Himself for them. The words: I give my life for the sheep, form a sort of refrain (comp. John 10:7; John 10:11; Joh 10:18 ), as we have found several similar refrains in our Gospel, in moments when the feeling is exalted (John 3:15-16; John 4:23-24; John 6:39-40; John 6:44; Joh 6:54 ). In the context, the expression for the sheep must be applied to believers only; but yet this phrase does not contradict that according to which “ Jesus is the propitiation, not only for our sins, but for those of the whole world ” ( 1Jn 2:2 ). For the death of Jesus, in the divine intention, is for all, although in reality it profits only believers. Jesus knows full well that the ὑπέρ , on behalf of, will be realized only in these latter.

From these two points by which Jesus characterizes Himself as the perfect shepherd, springs the third, John 10:16. It would be impossible that the holiest and most devoted work of love should have for its object only these few believers, such as the disciples and the one born blind, who consented to separate themselves from the unbelieving people. The view of Jesus extends more widely ( Joh 10:16 ), in proportion as He penetrates both the depth and the height ( Joh 10:15 ). The death of a being like the Son must obtain an infinite reward. The other sheep, the possession of whom will compensate Him for the loss of those who to-day refuse to follow Him, are evidently the believing Gentiles. Jesus declares that He has them already ( ἔχω , I have), and not merely that He will have them, for all that are of the truth, throughout the entire body of mankind, are His from before His coming. The question is not, I think, of a possession by reason of the divine predestination. We find here again rather one of the most profound and habitual thoughts of our Gospel, a thought which springs directly from the relation which the Prologue establishes between the Logos and the human soul ( Joh 10:4 and Joh 10:10 ).

The life and the light of the world, the Logos did not cease, even before His incarnation, to fill this office in the midst of the sinful world; and, among the heathen themselves, all those who surrender themselves and yield obedience to this inner light, must infallibly recognize in Jesus their ideal and give themselves to Him as His sheep as soon as He shall present Himself; comp. John 11:52 (“the children of God who are scattered abroad”); John 8:47 (“he that is of God hears the words of God”); John 18:37 (“he that is of the truth ”); John 3:21 (“he that does the truth, comes to the light”). The demonstrative adjective ταύτης , placed as it is after the substantive: “This fold,” implies, according to de Wette, that Jesus regards the heathen nationalities also as a sort of folds, of preparatory groupings divinely instituted in order to prepare for the Gospel. But perhaps Meyer, Weiss, etc., are right in thinking that there is here a notion introduced into the text. However, it is incorrect to set Joh 11:52 in opposition to this idea, which verse by no means declares the contrary of this. The believing heathen may very well be scattered throughout their respective nationalities, as the believing Jews are in their own (answer to Weiss). Meyer, committing here again the error which he committed in the explanation of the first allegory that of explaining the figures of one similitude by those of another understands the expression ἀγαγεῖν in the sense of feed, according to the figure of John 10:4; John 10:9, and he is followed by Luthardt and Weiss.

But the end of the verse ( καί , “ and so there shall be”) shows clearly that the Lord's idea is an altogether different one; it is that of bringing these sheep, to join them with the former ones. The Vulgate, therefore, rightly translates adducere. The parallel passage John 11:52: συναγαγεῖν εἰς ἕν , leads likewise to this explanation. When the historical application of the first similitude is missed, the meaning of the whole discourse is lost. The work of St. Paul, with the workings of the missionaries who have followed him even to our own days, is essentially what this term bring describes. This third similitude, announcing the call of the Gentiles, corresponds thus to the first, which described the going forth of the believers from the Synagogue. The words: They will hear my voice, recall the expression of the end of the Acts: “The salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles and they will also hear it” ( Act 28:28 ). There is a solemnity in the last words simply placed in juxtaposition: one flock, one shepherd. They contain the thought which forms the text of the Epistle to the Ephesians: the breaking down of the old wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles by the death of Christ ( Eph 2:14-17 ). This prophetic word is accomplished before our eyes by the work of missions in the heathen world. As to the final conversion of Israel, it is neither directly nor indirectly indicated.

These so new ideas of the death of the Messiah and of the call of new non-Jewish believers to participation in the Messianic salvation were fitted to raise many doubts in the minds of the hearers. Jesus clearly perceives it; this is the reason why He energetically affirms that the good pleasure of God rests upon this work and upon Him who executes it, and that it is the true aim of His mission to the world.

Verses 17-18

Vv. 17, 18. “ Therefore does my Father love me: because I give my life that I may take it again; 18 no one takes it away from me, but I give it of myself; I have power to give, and I have power to take it again: this commandment I received of my Father.

Διὰ τοῦτο , for this reason, refers ordinarily in John to a previously expressed idea, but one which is about to be taken up and developed in the following clause, beginning with ὅτι ( because). The same is the case here. It is because of His voluntary devotion to this great work ( Joh 10:15-16 ) that His Father loves Him; that is to say, He adds, because He sacrifices His life to it, and this not in order absolutely to give it up, but with the express intention of recovering it, and thus of finishing the work of which He only makes a beginning here on the earth. No doubt, the Father eternally loves the Son; but, when once made man, the Son cannot be approved and loved by Him except on condition of perfectly realizing the new law of His existence, as Son of man. Now this law, which results for Him from the solidarity in which He is bound together with a fallen race, is that of saving it by the gift of His life; and the constant disposition of the Son to accept this obligation of love, is the object of the infinite satisfaction (of the ἀγαπᾷν ) of the Father. It is in this sense that St. Paul calls the death of Jesus “an offering of a sweet smell” ( Eph 5:2 ). The last words serve to complete the preceding idea: “because I give my life, and because I give it that I may take it again.” The self-devotion of the Son who consents to give His life is infinitely pleasing to the Father, but on one condition; that this gift be not the abandoning of humanity and of the work begun in it, which would be at the same time the forgetting of the glory of the Father. In other terms, the devotion to death would be of an evil sort if it had not for its end the return among men by means of the resurrection. As Luthardt with perfect correctness remarks: “Jesus must wish to resume His life again in order to continue, as glorified, His ministry of shepherd to the Church, especially to the Gentiles whom He has the mission to gather together ( Eph 2:17 ).” The supreme end indicated in Joh 10:16 requires not only His death, but also His resurrection. It appears from the words: that I may take it again, that Jesus raises Himself from the dead.

And this is true, for if it is in the Father that the power lies which gives Him life, it is Himself who by His free will and His prayer calls upon His person the display of this power. Joh 10:18 is the emphatic reaffirmation of this character of freedom in the work of the Son, which alone makes it the object of the Father's satisfaction. Hence the asyndeton. It is not through powerlessness that the shepherd will succumb to the hostile power; there will come a moment when He will Himself consent to His defeat ( Joh 14:31 ). The word οὐδείς , no one, includes every creature; we may include in it God Himself, since if, in dying, the Son obeys the decree of the Father, He yet does it freely; God neither imposes on Him death nor resurrection. The words ἐξουσίαν ἔχω , I have the power (the competency, the authority), are repeated with a marked emphasis; Jesus had no obligation to die, not only because, not having sinned, He had the right to keep His holy life, but also because, even at the last moment, He could have asked for twelve legions of angels, who would have wrested Him from the hands of His enemies. In the same way, in giving up His life, it depended on Himself to demand it again or not to reclaim it. As Luthardt says: “In these two acts, the action of the Son comes before the action of the Father.” The last words: I have received this commandment, are ordinarily referred to the commandment to die and rise again which had been given to Him by the Father. But would not such an idea tend to weaken all that Jesus had just developed? The true movement of the passage is the affirming of the full independence of the Lord. This is the reason why it seems to me that it is better to apply the term τὴν ἐντολήν , this command, to the commission with which Jesus has come to the earth and which gives Him the right to make free use of His own person, to die and to revive at will. The tenor of this commission, when the Father sent Him, was this: “Thou canst die or not die, rise again or not rise again, according to the free aspirations of thy love.” Jesus calls it a command in order to cover with the veil of humility this incomparable prerogative.

Verses 19-21

Vv. 19-21. “ There was therefore again a division among the Jews because of these discoursings. 20. Many of them said, He is possessed of a demon, and is mad; why do you listen to him? 21. Others said, These are not the discoursings of one possessed; can a demon open the eyes of the blind?

Always the same result; a division, which forms the prelude to the final choice; comp. John 7:12; John 7:30-31; John 7:40-41; John 9:8-9; John 9:16. The word πάλιν , again, awakens the attention of the reader to the constant repetition of this result. The words: Why do you listen to Him? show with what uneasiness the decidedly hostile party observed the favorable impression produced by the discourses of Jesus on those who were better disposed. The answer of these latter ( Joh 10:21 ) contains two arguments in juxtaposition. The first is the simple avowal of their impression: the discourse of Jesus does not appear to them to be that of a madman. But immediately they seem to be ashamed of this avowal and withdraw behind another argument which is less compromising: the patent fact of the cure of the blind man. The second argument might be connected with the first by an And besides.

Thus continually more and more do the sheep of Jesus in the vast inclosure of the theocracy separate themselves from the mass of the flock; and for the theme: I and you, which was that of chap. 8 is substituted more and more that theme which is to sum up the new situation: I and mine.

Verses 22-24

Vv. 22-24. “ Now they were celebrating the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem;it was winter. 23. And Jesus was walking about in the temple, in Solomon's porch. 24. The Jews therefore surrounded him; and they said to him, How long wilt thou hold our minds in suspense? If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly.

The feast of the Dedication ( ἐγκαινία ) was instituted by the Maccabees in remembrance of the purification of the temple after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Maccabees 4.; Josephus, Antiq., 12.7.6). It continued eight days, following the 25th of Cisleu, which, if it was then the year 29 of our era, fell in that year, according to the work of M. Chavannes cited on page 42, on the 19th or 20th of December. It was called τὰ φῶτα , the lights, because of the brilliant illumination with which it was celebrated, not only at Jerusalem, but in the whole country. Jesus took advantage of it to address once more, before the Passover, a last appeal to His people. We may conclude from what precedes that He probably made this rapid journey to Jerusalem while the seventy disciples were accomplishing in Galilee the mission which He had intrusted to them, and were there preparing the way from place to place for His last appeal. We have seen that He had probably accomplished the journey at the feast of Purim (John 5:0) while the Twelve were fulfilling a similar mission in Galilee (vol. I., p. 453).

It was the unfavorable season of the year; and it was not possible to remain in the open air. Jesus, therefore, took his position in Solomon's porch, an ancient peristyle situated in the eastern part of the court, above the valley of Jehoshaphat. It was the last remnant of the ancient temple. This place which had been rendered dear to the heart of the evangelist by the remembrance of the circumstance which he is about to relate, seems to have been equally sacred to the Christians of the primitive church of Jerusalem ( Act 3:11 ). The nature of the place facilitated ( therefore, Joh 10:24 ) the kind of manoeuvre which was executed at the moment by the Jews and which is described by the term ἐκύκλωσαν , they surrounded him. While Jesus was walking about in this peristyle, they took advantage of a favorable moment to place themselves between Him and His disciples and to force Him to speak. It appears to me that this must be the meaning of this strange expression: they surrounded Him in a circle. The scene of Joh 8:25 is renewed here in an intensified degree. They are weary of His answers which seem to them ambiguous. Some among them feel indeed that no man had ever so nearly approached the Messianic ideal. Let Him finally consent to play in earnest the part of the Messiah and to free the country from the Roman power, as formerly Judas Maccabaeus purified the temple from the Syrian profanations, and they will willingly hail Him, and that at this very festival; if not, let Him frankly avow that He is not the Messiah, and not continue to excite the expectation of the people! We thus picture to ourselves the general sentiment. Some, more ill-disposed, wished perhaps this is the idea of Weiss to extort from Him the term Christ, in order that they might accuse Him. The expression τὴν ψυχὴν αἴρειν , properly, to raise the mind, is applied to all lively emotions; see in the Greek tragic poets. Here it expresses the expectation which an activity like that of Jesus excited, an activity which awakened all the national hopes without ever satisfying them. Philo uses the term μετεωρίζειν in exactly the same sense.

Verses 22-32


Vv. 22-32.

1. The argument presented by Godet, as against Meyer, Weiss and others, seems satisfactory as showing that Jesus probably left Jerusalem and its neighborhood during the two months which intervened between the Feast of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication. That He did not remain in Jerusalem is certainly rendered probable by the fact that, in John 10:26-27, He refers to the discourse of Joh 10:1-18 as if this were the last one which had been given to the hearers. That He remained neither in the city nor its vicinity is probable, because of the danger connected with the increasing excitement against Him. In a narrative prepared, like John's, on the principle of selection, and with separations of months between successive parts, the want of indication of a removal to a more distant region previous to Joh 10:40 can hardly be pressed as conclusive against an earlier removal.

2. Meyer calls attention to the designation of the particular part of the temple as indicating that the writer was an eye-witness. He also says that the verb ἐκύκλωσαν “graphically sets forth the urgency and obtrusiveness of the Jews,” but, apparently with correctness, he rejects the view which Godet holds, that they pressed in between Jesus and His disciples, and thus enclosed Him in their midst. There seems, at least, to be no sufficient reason for this view.

3. In the words of Joh 10:24 the Jews evidently call upon Jesus to declare Himself distinctly as to whether He is the Christ. It is proper to bear this demand in mind when considering the answer which He gives in the subsequent verses. This answer begins with the statement that He has already told them what He is. If there is a definite reference to a particular occasion here, it is, no doubt, to the discourses and conversations of chs. 8- John 10:18, in the closing part of which the allusion to the sheep ( Joh 10:26-27 ) is found. Such a definite reference is probably to be admitted. After this He appeals to the testimony of His works, and then calls their attention to the same cause of their unbelief which He had given in the former discourse they had not the susceptibility to the truth, they were not of His sheep. Following upon this, He declares that those who are His sheep have eternal life as His gift, and cannot be wrested from Him so as to lose it. It is in this way that He comes to the more complete statement of His Divine position than has been made at any previous time. The sheep, He says, cannot be taken from Him, because they are given Him by the Father, from whom, as being greater than all, they cannot be taken away; and then He adds, that He and the Father are one. This oneness is either oneness of being or of power the latter idea is that of the immediate context, and seems to the writer of this note to be the one intended in this expression. But power is the central element of being, when the natural attributes are considered, and thus unity of power, when connected with the close relations between Jesus and the Father already indicated throughout the preceding part of the Gospel, implies unity of being. The Jews evidently understood this to be the meaning, as they did in John 5:18, for they plainly affirm it, and prepare to stone Him for blasphemy (John 10:31; Joh 10:33 ); and, on His part, He proceeds, as He did in ch. 5, to give a renewed statement of His claims and the evidence for them which they had themselves seen. He is in the Father, and the Father in Him, and this as connected with their oneness of power. He is thus the Son of God and is of the Divine nature. That in these latter statements there was no softening of His previous affirmations, or explaining away of His claims, is proved by the renewed act of hostility on the part of the Jews in John 10:39. To their demand, therefore, “If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly,” His final answer is, not merely, “I am the Christ,” but “I am one with the Father He is in me and I am in Him.” As the evangelist says in His concluding words, John 20:31, and in his Prologue, Jesus is not only the Christ, but the Son of God, the incarnate Logos.

4. Weiss objects to the explanation of ἕν ἐσμεν as referring to unity of power, on the ground that this is the thing intended to be proved. But this does not seem to be the correct view the thing to be proved is that, if no one can snatch the sheep out of the Father's hand, it follows that no one can seize them out of Jesus' hand, and the proof of this is the oneness of power. Westcott, on the other hand, agrees substantially with what has been said above on this point, and says: “The thought springs from the equality of power ( my hand, my Father's hand); but infinite power is an essential attribute of God; and it is impossible to suppose that two beings distinct in essence could be equal in power.”

Verses 22-42

Third Section: 10:22-42. The Second Discourse.

In chap. John 7:19-24, we have seen Jesus return, in a discourse pronounced at the feast of Tabernacles, to the fact of the healing of the impotent man (chap. 5), and thus finish His justification of Himself which was begun at Jerusalem several months before ( Joh 10:17-42 ), at the preceding feast. The same is the case here. In the second part of chap. John 10:22-42, He resumes the thread of the discourse pronounced after the cure of the man who was born blind, at the feast of Tabernacles, and thus completes the teaching begun in the previous visit. We have explained this mode of action (vol. I., p. 450). The exasperation of His adversaries in the capital not permitting Him to treat the questions in full, He takes them up with a new beginning at a succeeding visit.

The feast of the Dedication ( Joh 10:22 ) was celebrated about the middle of December. Two months must therefore have elapsed between the feast of Tabernacles and this feast. Where did Jesus pass all this time? As no change of place is indicated and as, in John 10:42, Jesus is plainly again in Jerusalem, Hengstenberg, Meyer, Weiss, and others infer from this that Jesus remained during this whole period in the capital and its neighborhood; the last named, without hesitation, treat as a harmonistic expedient every opposite idea. But there is nothing less certain than the conclusion thus drawn from the silence of John. At the end of chap. 5 the evangelist does not in any way mention the return of Jesus to Galilee, and yet it is there that the Lord is found again in the beginning of chap. 6. Still more; there is nothing more improbable than so prolonged a sojourn of Jesus in Jerusalem or in its neighborhood at this time. Let us recall all the precautions which Jesus had been obliged to take, in order to repair to that city at the feast of Tabernacles, that He might give to this visit the character of a surprise. Why? Because, as is said in John 7:1, “Jesus would not go into Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.”

And yet in such a state of things, He could have remained two whole months peaceably in Jerusalem in the presence of the hostile party, and after the conflict had been still further aggravated by the violent scenes related in chaps. Joh 7:1 to Joh 10:21 ! Such a sojourn could only have determined the catastrophe before the time ( Joh 7:6 ). This impossible supposition is, moreover, positively incompatible with John's narrative. In the discourse in John 10:25-30, Jesus reproduces in substance that which He had pronounced after the cure of the man who was born blind; He even expressly cites it (John 10:26: as I said to you). This fact implies that it was the first time that He found Himself face to face with the same hearers since the feast of Tabernacles, where He had used this allegory of the shepherd and the sheep. Finally, this supposition of a sojourn of two months in Judea between the feast of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication is certainly false, if the narrative of St. Luke is not a pure romance. Luke describes in the most circumstantial and dramatic way the departure of Jesus from Galilee, and His farewell to that province, in order to repair to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 ff.). He shows how Jesus gave to this act the most striking notoriety by the solemn threatenings addressed to the cities where He had accomplished His ministry, and by the sending out of the seventy disciples, who should prepare His way in southern Galilee, as far as Peraea, that is to say, in all the country through which He was about to go to Jerusalem for the last Passover. How could this departure accomplished with such great publicity be identified with the journey to the feast of Tabernacles mentioned by John in chap. 7, a journey which, according to John 10:10, was made as it were in secret and which brought Jesus suddenly to Jerusalem?

It is to this, however, that the matter must resolve itself, if, after the journey in John 7:0, Jesus did not return to Galilee. Would it be true historic impartiality to condemn purely and simply one of the two narratives, when they can be so easily reconciled with each other! Jesus, after the feast of Tabernacles, returned to Galilee which He had left so suddenly, just as He had returned thither after the feast of Purim (end of chap. 5). He resumed His work there also for a certain time. Then (Luke 9:51 ff.) He called upon His adherents to sever the last bonds, in order to follow Him to Jerusalem; He sent before Him the seventy disciples, to the end of preparing by this means the last appeal which He desired Himself to address to the cities and villages of southern Galilee which had not yet been visited, and it was then that He pronounced the condemnation of the cities on the borders of the lake of Gennesareth, the constant witnesses of His ministry. This prolonged pilgrimage, the account of which fills nine chapters of the Gospel of Luke ( Luk 9:51 to Luk 18:18 ), must have been interrupted, according to this same Gospel a strange circumstances by a brief journey to Jerusalem; for the story in Luke 10:38-42 (Jesus in the house of Martha and Mary) which is placed, one knows not how, in the midst of this journey, transfers the reader all at once to Bethany, and the parable of the Good Samaritan, which immediately precedes, seems also to be connected with a visit to Judea. What means this excursion to Jerusalem implied in the narrative of Luke, perhaps without a knowledge of it on his part (for he does not mention Bethany)? How is it possible not to be struck with the remarkable coincidence between this journey and the journey to the feast of the Dedication related by John? After this rapid excursion to Jerusalem, Jesus proceeds to resume His slow journeying in the south of Galilee; then He crosses the Jordan to go into Peraea, as is distinctly stated by Matthew and Mark. This sojourn in Peraea, a little while before the Passion, is the point where the four Gospel narratives meet together. Compare indeed Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1, and Luke 9:51; then Luke 18:15 ff., where the parallelism recommences between the narrative of this last writer and that of the other two Synoptics (the presentation of the young children, the coming up of the rich young man), and finally John 10:40-42. While following their own particular course, the four narratives are thus without difficulty harmonized.

The following passage includes an historical introduction ( Joh 10:22-24 ), a first address of Jesus, in which He shows the Jews the moral separation which exists between them and Himself ( Joh 10:25-31 ), and a last teaching by means of which He seeks yet once more to remove what was for them the great stumbling-stone, the accusation of blasphemy ( Joh 10:32-39 ). The passage closes with the description of the sojourn in Peraea ( Joh 10:40-42 ).

Verses 25-26

Vv. 25, 26. “ Jesus answered them, I told you and you do not believe; the works which I do in my Father's name, these works bear witness of me. 26. But, as for you, you do not believe; for you are not of my sheep, as I said to you.

The position of Jesus with relation to the Jews had never been so critical. To answer yes, is not possible for Him; for the meaning which they give to the term Christ has, so to speak, nothing in common with that which He Himself attaches to it. To say no. is still less possible; for He is indeed the Christ promised of God, and, in this sense, the one whom they expect. His reply is admirable for its wisdom. He refers, as in John 8:25, to His testimonies in which He had applied to Himself the Messianic symbols of the old covenant and in some sort spelt out His title of Christ, so that if they were willing to believe, they had only to pronounce it themselves. Thus is His reply explained. The verb: I said to you, has no object; it is easy to supply the ellipsis: that which you ask me. To His own testimony, if it does not appear to them sufficient, there is added, moreover, that of the Father. His miracles were all works of the Father; for they were wrought with the invocation of His name; if Jesus were an impostor, would God have answered him thus? If these testimonies failed with them, it is the result of their unbelief ( Joh 10:26 ). He is not the Messiah whom their heart demands: this is the reason why they affect not to understand what is so clear. The subject ὑμεῖς , you, placed at the beginning, signifies: It is not I, it is you, who are responsible for this result. And the following declaration: You are not of my sheep, shows them that the moral disposition is what is wanting to them that they may recognize in Him the divine Shepherd. The formula of quotation: as I said to you, is omitted by the Alexandrian MSS. But perhaps this omission arises from the fact that these words were not found textually in the preceding discourses. The authority of 12 Mjj., supported by that of the most ancient Vss., appears to us to guarantee their authenticity. In our first edition, we made them the preamble of John 10:27, especially because of the relation between the contents of this verse and that of John 10:3-5. The pronoun ὑμῖν , you, however (“as I said to you ”), favors rather the connection of this formula of quotation with John 10:26. For Jesus has never applied to the unbelieving Jews the promises of John 10:27; while He has frequently addressed to them charges equivalent to that of John 10:26. The charge of not being His sheep really formed the basis of the parables, Joh 10:1-5 and John 10:7-10, in which Jesus had distinguished clearly from His sheep the mass of the people and their rulers, His interlocutors in general. Reuss: “Jesus had nowhere said this.” Then again: “The allegory of the sheep,” he says, “had been presented to an entirely different public.” Finally, he maliciously adds: “It is only the readers of the Gospel who have not left the scene.” We have shown that Jesus had said this, and it is not difficult to show that He had said it to the same hearers. For the discourse in Joh 10:1-18 had not been addressed, as Reuss asserts, to pilgrim strangers who had come to the feast of Tabernacles and afterwards had departed, but to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, in response to some of the Pharisees ( Joh 9:40 ) who had asked: “ And are we also blind? ” No doubt, we cannot hold that it was identically the same individuals who were found there again after two months; but it was the same population all whose members were alike in their dependence on the rulers and their general hostility to Jesus. The essential aim of the following words, in which Jesus describes the privileges of His sheep, is certainly that of making His hearers feel what an abyss separates them from such a condition.

Nevertheless this description naturally becomes an invitation to come to Him, addressed to those who are the least ill-disposed.

Verses 27-28

Vv. 27, 28. “ My sheep hear my voice, and I know them; and they follow me 28 and I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.

Luthardt has divided the six clauses of these verses into two groups of three: on one side, the faith of the believer, his personal union with the Lord, and the fidelity with which he persists in this union ( Joh 10:27 ); on the other, the gift of life which Jesus makes, the salvation which He assures to him, and the divine protection which He causes him to enjoy ( Joh 10:28 ). But this division into two groups does not accord with the two κἀγώ , and I, at the beginning of the second and fourth clauses. These two pronouns indicate a repeated reciprocity between the conduct of the believer and that of Jesus, and thus speak in favor of the division of Bengel, who divides into three groups of two: 1st pair: faith of the believer in the word preached (“ hear my voice ”) and personal testimony of Christ given to the believer (“ I know them ”). 2d pair: practical fidelity of the believer thus known and loved (“ they follow me ”), and, on Christ's part, communication of the highest good, eternal life (“ I give them...”). The 3d pair states the indestructible character of the salvation which the believer thus possesses (“ they shall never perish ”), and the cause of this certainty, the fidelity of Jesus which will preserve them from every enemy (“ no one shall seize them...”). The first pair refers rather, like the first similitude, John 10:1-6, to the formation of the bond; the second, like the second similitude, John 10:7-10, to the life in this position; the third, like the picture, John 10:11-18, to the indestructible nature of this relation. The hand is here less the emblem of power, than that of property: “They shall not cease to be mine.

Verses 29-30

Vv. 29, 30. “ My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand; 30 I and the Father are one.

We might be tempted to find, with Luthardt, a strict syllogism in the thoughts expressed in John 10:29-30. Major: My Father is greater than all ( Joh 10:29 ). Minor: I and my Father are one ( Joh 10:30 ). Conclusion: Therefore I shall victoriously defend them against all ( Joh 10:29 ). But, in general, the reasoning of Jesus tends rather to extend in a spiral manner than to close in upon itself like a circle. This is the case here: the sentiment rises and enlarges. Jesus begins by indicating the absolutely certain guaranty of His right of property in the sheep: God who has given them to Him is more powerful than all the forces of the universe. That any one should be able to wrest them from Him, it is necessary that He should begin by wresting them from God. Then, from this point, His thought rises still higher, even to the idea of the relation in virtue of which everything is common between the Father and the Son. We see in this gradation the filial consciousness displaying itself even till it has reached its utmost depth ( Joh 10:30 ).

There are four principal readings in John 10:29: 1. That of the T. R. and the eleven less ancient Mjj. ( Γ Δ Π etc.): ὅς and μείζων : “The Father who has given them to me is greater than all.” 2. That of B. It. ὅ and μείζον : “ That which the Father has given me is greater than all.” 3. That of A and X: ὅς and μείζον : “The Father who has given them to me is something greater (neuter) than all.” 4. That of א L, ὅ and μείζων , which has really no meaning unless we consent to give a masculine attribute ( μείζων ) to a neuter subject ὃ (“ what the Father...”). It is the same with the third, in which the subject is masculine and the attribute neuter. How could God be represented as a thing? Finally, one must be singularly blinded by prejudice in favor of the text of B, to prefer, as Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort do, the second reading to the first. Not only do the ordinary documents of the Alexandrian text contradict one another; but the sense which is offered by the reading of the Vatican MS. has not the least internal probability. John would say, according to that reading, that what the Father has given to Jesus is greater than all or everything. It would thus be the flock of Jesus which is here called greater, in the sense of more precious, more excellent than all. But what a strange expression! Believers are of more value than the whole universe, perchance. But the Scriptures never express themselves in this way. They glorify God, not men, even the most faithful men. Moreover, the expressions: no one shall snatch them ( Joh 10:28 ), no one can snatch them ( Joh 10:29 ), show that the point in hand is a comparison of power, not between the sheep and their enemies, but between God Himself and these enemies. So Luthardt, Weiss and Keil, in this case, give up the reading against which we are contending. The following is the way in which these variants may have arisen. Offense may have been taken at seeing δέδωκε , has given, without an object, and, through a recalling of the expression in John 6:37; John 6:39 ( that which the Father gives me, has given me) and John 17:3 ( that which thou hast given me), the copyists may have changed ὅς (who) into ὅ ( that which) and made ὁ πατήρ , the Father, the subject of has given. The transformation of μείζων into μεῖζον was the inevitable consequence of the first change. The other readings are mixtures resulting from the embarrassment in which the subsequent copyists found themselves.

The hand, when the Father is in question, represents power rather than possession. God has transmitted this to the Son; but His power remains the safeguard of the property of the Son which is common to Him with the Fathers. Can this guaranty insure believers against the consequences of their own unfaithfulness, as Hengstenberg asserts? The text says nothing like this. The question is of enemies from without, who seek to carry off the sheep, but not of unfaithfulness through which the sheep would themselves cease to be sheep.

According to Weiss, Joh 10:30 is intended to resolve the apparent contradiction between “guarded by my Father” and “guarded by me.” I do not believe in this relation between Joh 10:30 and John 10:29, because in what precedes the idea of guarding has been in reality attributed only to God; the end of Joh 10:28 referred, as we have seen, to the right of property, not to the guarding of the sheep. Joh 10:30 serves rather to explain why the Father inviolably guards that which belongs to the Son. It is because they have all things common, because they are one. If such is indeed the connection of ideas, Joh 10:30 cannot refer either to the unity of moral will (the Socinians), or of power ( Chrysostom and many others, as Lucke, de Wette, etc.), or even solely to the community of action for the salvation of mankind ( Weiss), as it has been described in John 10:19-20, and in the sense in which Paul says, 1 Corinthians 3:9, of himself and Apollos: “He that planteth and he that watereth are one ( ἓν εἰσί ),” namely, as to the end which they propose to themselves in their work. Here the question is of the relation, not between two workmen, but between Christ as man and God.

And if Jesus had only meant this, why did He not determine more clearly this notion of co-working, as Paul does in the following words ( Joh 10:10 ), when he comes to speak of his relation to God: We are God's fellow-workers? Why above all give needlessly, and as it were wantonly, an offense to the Jews by employing an expression which appeared to say more than what He in reality meant to say? No, Jesus neither meant: “We desire one and the same thing,” nor “We have the same power,” nor, “We labor in the same work. ” In saying “We are one,” He has affirmed a more profound unity, that which is the inner and hidden basis of all the preceding statements and which Jesus here allows to break forth, as in Joh 8:58 He had suffered the deepest foundation of His personal existence to show itself. Reuss, being altogether indifferent to the question, since he ascribes the discourses of John to the evangelist, recognizes without hesitation the true meaning of this verse: “The filial relation here, as throughout the whole book, is not only that of love or of the community of will and of action (the ethical relation), but also that of a community of nature and essence (the metaphysical relation).” The term one expresses the consciousness of union, not only moral but essential, with God Himself; the expression we are establishes the difference of persons. As to we, it would be in itself alone a blasphemy in the mouth of a creature; God and I, we (comp. Joh 14:23 )! It has been objected that the expression: to be one, is elsewhere applied to the relation between Jesus and believers, which would prove that it has a purely moral sense. But the union of Jesus and believers is not a mere agreement of will; it is a consubstantial union. The incarnation has established between Jesus and ourselves a relation of nature, and this relation embraces henceforth our entire personality, physical and moral.

Verse 31

Ver. 31. “ The Jews therefore brought stones again to stone him.

Οὖν , therefore, by reason of the blasphemy ( Joh 10:30 ); comp. John 10:33. Weiss claims that, even understanding the words of Joh 10:30 in the sense which he gives to them, the Jews may have found therein a blasphemy. But, taken in the sense of a common action of God and Jesus, this thought certainly did not go beyond what in their view the Christ might legitimately say. But they had just asked Him whether He was the Christ. What was there in it, then, which could so violently offend them? Πάλιν , again, alludes to John 8:59. Only ἦραν , they took up, was used in the former case, while John now says ἐβάστασαν , they brought. Probably they did not have the stones at hand in the porch; it was necessary to go some distance to find them in the court. There was here, no longer a mere demonstration, as in chap. 8, but a serious attempt. The question was of accomplishing at length the act of stoning, which had several times been threatened. Shades of expression like this reveal the eye-witness, whose eyes followed anxiously this progress of hatred.

Verses 32-33

Vv. 32, 33. “ Jesus answered them: I have shown you many good works by the power of my Father; for which of these works do you stone me? 33. The Jews answered him it is not for a good work that we stone thee, but for blasphemy, and because, being a man, thou makest thyself God.

This time Jesus does not withdraw, as in John 8:59; He makes the stones fall from the hands of His adversaries by a question. Instead of good works, the translation should properly be beautiful works (Rilliet). The epithet καλά designates indeed not the beneficent character of the works, but their moral beauty, their perfection in holiness, in power, as well as in goodness. The term ἔδειξα , strictly, I have shown, characterizes these works as grand specimens of all those which the Father holds in reserve, and as the sensible and glorious proofs of the favor which the Son enjoys with Him. The Father shows Him these works in the ideal sphere ( Joh 10:19-20 ), and He shows them to the world in the sphere of reality. The preposition ἐκ indicates that the will and power by which Jesus accomplishes these works proceed from the Father ( Joh 10:36 ).

The question of Jesus contains a keen irony, an expression of the deepest indignation. Undoubtedly, the ground on which the Jews intended to stone Him was not that which Jesus here ascribes to them; but in alleging another ground they imposed upon their consciences, and Jesus reveals to them the true condition of things by means of this question. Was it not on occasion of the healing of the impotent man that their murderous hatred had first manifested itself (chap. 5)? Had it not been increased in violence by the healing of the man born blind (chap. 9)? And will it not be a third miracle, the resurrection of Lazarus (chap. 11), which will bring it to its fatal limit? Jesus knew this full well: it was these great and beautiful works which, by marking Him as the Son, caused Him to be the object of their fury: “ This is the heir; let us kill him! ” Apart from this hatred, they would not so readily have accused Him, who was by His whole life glorifying God, of being a blasphemer. This question in a sense paralyzes them; Jesus is able to speak to them again.

The Jews formulate the point in dispute, in John 10:33, as it presents itself to their perverted consciences. The term: a blasphemer, expresses the general idea, and the following clause: and because..., specifies the charge, by applying it to the present case.

Verses 32-39

III. Second Address: John 10:32-39 .

The reply of Jesus treats of two subjects: 1. That of the blasphemy which is imputed to Him ( Joh 10:32-36 ); 2. That of His relation to God which is contested ( Joh 10:37-39 ).

Verses 33-42


Vv. 33-42. 1. There can be no doubt that the Jews understood Jesus as claiming to be God. Joh 10:33 clearly proves this. The words of the following verses are to be explained, accordingly, in view of this fact.

2. There are two parts in the answer of Jesus: John 10:34-36, and John 10:37-38. For the appreciation of the meaning, it must be borne in mind that Jesus enters upon an argument, and does not merely make a new assertion. It is natural, therefore, that what He says should have a progressive character, and should present the claim which He makes through the evidences for it. The claim is that of John 10:30, with what it suggests which they had interpreted in the sense of John 10:33 b. In such a progressive argument we might easily expect Him to begin, as He does, with a sort of argumentum ad hominem, founded upon the Old Testament, which they could not reject, and to say, If the O. T. addresses magistrates as gods, in their capacity as God's ministers in the world, surely there is no blasphemy in the appropriation of this title by one who, in a far more exalted sense, is God's ambassador the one whom He has sent into the world to reveal Himself. His position is therefore, He says, exalted enough, even from the point of view of the Divine messenger and teacher revealing the truth in which capacity they might easily recognize Him to justify the title. But now He moves forward to the more positive side. What His real position is, they may know by the evidence of the works. If they will not be convinced by His words, let these latter teach them. These will show that there is something more in Him than the highest Divine messenger, that He is even the one who is consecrated and sent into the world to make known the truth that there is a vital and essential union between Him and the Father ( the Father in me and I in the Father), that union which is implied in, and the necessary condition of, unity of power (I and the Father are one, Joh 10:30 ).

3. In Joh 10:40 Jesus is represented as going again into the region where He is first brought before the reader, in John 1:28. The public ministry of Jesus, in a certain sense, closes at this point, and, in accordance with the carefully-arranged plan of the book, it seems not unnatural that the writer should thus bring the narrative again to its starting-point. The introduction of John the Baptist again, at the close, is characteristic of the author. The testimony which John had given before his death produces its fruit when Jesus is drawing near to the time of His own death, and that which had led the writer himself to Jesus, at the beginning, is now represented as bringing many others to a like faith. They believed, as he had done, because of the confirmation which the sight and hearing of Jesus gave to what John had told them. The placing of this testimony and its results at the end of these most striking declarations of Jesus respecting Himself is worthy of notice, as connected with the development of the proof of the truth which the author desires to establish. The insertion of these three verses can hardly be explained, except as they are regarded as having relation to such a plan of the Gospel as has been indicated in these notes the plan of setting forth progressive testimony and a growing faith which moves along with it; and their presence here, accordingly, gives a new evidence that the author wrote his Gospel under the guiding influence of this plan.

4. The statement here made respecting John corresponds with the declaration of the Prologue with reference to him and with his statements respecting himself in chs. 1 and 3. The σημεῖα of this Gospel are, all of them, σημεῖα in the sense of John 20:30-31. John was not the light, but his mission was to bear testimony to the light. The object of his mission and testimony was “that all might believe through him.” This object was realized in the case of the persons here mentioned. The prominence given to John's testimony in this Gospel is thus easily explained.

Verses 34-36

Vv. 34-36. “ Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law I said ye are gods? 35. If it called them gods to whom the word of God was addressed, and the Scripture cannot be broken, 36 do you say of him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest! because I said, I am the Son of God?

This argument has often been presented as an implicit retractation of the expressions in which Jesus seemed to have affirmed His divine nature. In this sense, He is supposed to say: “Mere creatures have been called gods, because they represent God in some one of His functions, that of judge, for example; this is the only sense in which I have ascribed divinity to myself.” But Jesus would thereby, at the same time, retract all His earlier testimonies, the meaning of which we have established. Jesus is occupied solely, in this first part of His reply, John 10:34-36, with repelling the accusation of blasphemy. With this end in view, He reasons as follows: “The Scripture called mere human beings gods, as being invested with an office in which they were the representatives and organs of God on earth; were I then nothing more than a mere man, sent to accomplish a divine work, I should not deserve, according to the Scripture itself, to be treated as a blasphemer for having called myself Son of God.”

As an argument ad hominem the reasoning is irrefutable. Nevertheless, it still leaves room for this objection: Jesus called Himself God in an altogether different sense from that in which the Scripture gave this title to the Israelite judges. But a second point is to be observed here: it is the gradation in John 10:35-36: “If the Scripture did not blaspheme in calling the persons gods to whom the revelation was addressed, how can I have spoken blasphemy in declaring myself God, I, whom God sends into the world as His revelation itself? ” This altogether different position of Jesus as regards the divine revelation justifies the higher sense in which He attributes to Himself the title of God. The monotheism of the Bible differs absolutely from the cold and dead Deism which Jewish orthodoxy had extracted from the sacred books, and which separates the Creator by a gulf from man.

This petrified monotheism is the connecting link between degenerate Judaism, Mahometanism and modern rationalism; but it is only a gross caricature of the Scriptural conception. Every theocratic function exercised in the name of Jehovah, who has conferred it, places its depositary in living connection with the Most High, makes him participate in His inspiration, and constitutes him His agent. Thereby the man, king, judge or prophet, becomes relatively a manifestation of God Himself. “ At that time, the house of David shall be as Elohim, as the angel of the Lord.Zechariah 12:8. The Old Testament is, in its deepest tendency, in a constant advancing progress towards the incarnation, the crowning-point of the increasing approximation between God and man. This is the true basis of the reasoning of Jesus: If this entire course has nothing in it of blasphemy, the end in which it issues, the appearance of a man who declares Himself one with God, has in itself nothing in contempt of the majesty of God.

The quotation is derived from Psalms 82:6; and the term law denotes here, as in John 7:49, John 12:34, etc., the entire Old Testament, not as a denomination a potiori parte, but rather inasmuch as this whole book formed a law for the Israelitish thought and life. On the expression your law, see on John 8:17. Asaph, in this Psalm, addresses the theocratic judges. Joh 10:1 describes their greatness, in virtue of their function as organs of the divine justice, which has been intrusted to them. God Himself sits in the midst of them; it is from Him that their judgments emanate. Then in John 10:2-5, Asaph contrasts the sad reality, the injustice of the actual judges, with the ideal greatness of their function. In John 10:6, he returns to the idea of the first verse, that of their official dignity. The words: I said, refer undoubtedly to the expression of Asaph himself in John 10:1: “ God is present in the congregation of God. ” And thus he prepares for the transition to the warning of John 10:7-8, in which he reminds them that they will themselves be one day judged, for an account will be demanded of them respecting this divine function with which they had been clothed. Jesus draws from the words of the Psalmist a conclusion a minori ad majus, precisely as in John 7:23. The basis of the reasoning is the admitted principle: that the Scriptures cannot blaspheme. By those to whom the word of God is addressed, Jesus evidently understands those judges, to whom the Holy Spirit addresses Himself, saying: You are...The parenthetical remark: And the Scripture cannot be broken, shows the unlimited respect which Jesus feels for the word of Scripture.

Let us suppose that it was the evangelist who invented all this argument; could he, the so-called author of the theory of the Logos, have resisted the temptation to put into the mouth of Jesus here this favorite title by which he had designated Him in the Prologue? This would be the altogether natural gradation: The law calls them judges to whom the Word is addressed; how much less can I be accused of blasphemy, who am the Word itself, when I attribute to myself the title of God! John does not yield to this temptation; it is because it did not exist for him, since he limited himself to giving a faithful report of what his Master had said. Jesus designates Himself as Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent. The first expression might strictly refer to a fact in the earthly life of Jesus, such as that of the miraculous birth ( Luthardt) or that of the baptism ( Weiss). But in that case it would be necessary to refer the following expression: sent into the world, to an act later than the one or the other of these two events: according to Weiss, for example, to the command to begin His public ministry. Or it would be necessary to admit a retrograde order in the position of the two terms sanctify and send, which is quite as unnatural. The term to send into the world can of course only designate the mission which He received when He came from God to fulfill His work as Redeemer; and the term to sanctify must consequently designate the celestial act by which God specially set Him apart and consecrated Him for this mission. It was to this commandment, previous to the incarnation, that we were already referred by the expression commandment, ἐντολή , used in John 5:18; comp. 1 Peter 1:20.

There was a consulting together between the Father and the Son before the coming of Jesus to the world, of which He Himself formulates the result when He says: “ I am come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me ” ( Joh 6:38 ). How great is the superiority of such a being to all those to whom the divine revelation addresses itself here below! In reproducing the charge alleged against Him, Jesus passes to the direct discourse: Thou blasphemest. It is the lively repetition of the accusation, as it was still sounding in His ears. The following words: because I said, depend not on thou blasphemest, but on you say. The title Son of God evidently here reproduces the substance of the declaration of John 10:30: I and my Father are one. This example shows again how erroneous it is to see in the title Son of God the indication of a function, even of the highest theocratic function. Taken in this sense, this term does not involve absolutely any blasphemy at all. These Jews who had just addressed to Him the question: “If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly,” evidently could not have found in this title of Christ a blasphemy. And, as for Jesus, He is here thinking, as Joh 10:30 shows, on something altogether different from His dignity as Messiah. That is only a corollary following from His altogether peculiar union with God. He is only endeavoring therefore to awaken in the hearts of His hearers the feeling of His close relation to God, being certain, not only that the conviction of His Messiahship will naturally result from it, but also that in this way only that idea will not be erroneously conceived. Hence what follows:

Verses 37-38

Vv. 37-38. “ If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; 38 but if I do them, though you believe not me, believe my works, to the end that you may know and may understand that my Father is in me and I am in him.

There is much of gentleness in the manner in which Jesus here expresses Himself and reasons. He appeals with calmness from passion to sound reason. He consents that they should not believe on the ground of the word, although the testimony of a being like Himself ought to carry its proof in itself. But to His testimony there are united the works which the Father has accomplished through Him. If they have not ears, they have eyes; and what they do not infer from His words, they should, at least, infer from such works. The words: “If you do not believe me,” mean: “If you do not accord belief to my personal affirmations.” The reading of some Alexandrian authorities: ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ γινώσκητε , seems to me the best one: “To the end that you may learn to know ( γνῶτε ) and at last may understand ( γινώσκητε ).” These two terms taken together express the long and painful labor of that discovery which might have resulted from the first glance: “ Come and see ” ( Joh 1:47 ). The apparently pleonastic sense of this reading not having been understood by the copyists, they gave to the text the more common form which we find in the received reading: to the end that you may understand and believe. The words: the Father in me, and I in the Father, which indicate the contents of this obtained knowledge, recall the declaration of John 10:30 ( we are one), but it does not follow from this, that, as Weiss will have it, it exhausts the sense of that declaration. It must not be forgotten that John 10:30; Joh 10:36 are the immediate expression of the contents of the consciousness of Jesus Himself, while Joh 10:38 formulates these contents only in the measure in which they can and should become the object of the moral apperception of believers. By beholding with the eye of faith, they will discover more and more clearly two things: the full communication which God makes of His riches to this human being, His organ on the earth ( the Father in me); and the complete self- divesting by which Jesus, renouncing His own life, draws everything solely from the fullness of the Father and His gifts ( I in him). This is the form in which faith can apprehend here below the unity of the Father and the Son. This relation is the manifestation of their essential unity, which Jesus had affirmed as the contents of His own consciousness.

Verse 39

Ver. 39. “ They sought therefore again to take him; but he went forth out of their hands.

Perhaps this softened form in which Jesus had just repeated the affirmation of His divinity had had the effect of calming somewhat the irritation of His hearers; they abandon the purpose of immediately stoning Him. But, while they are plotting that they may arrest Him and bring Him to judgment, He succeeds in breaking the circle which they had formed around Him, and, after having rejoined His disciples, in leaving the temple with them. Nothing in the story leads to the supposition of a miracle.

It is absolutely impossible to suppose that a later writer, the inventor of the theory of the Logos, should have imagined an argument such as this passage contains. How could such a man have thought of ascribing to Jesus an argument which, superficially understood, seems to contradict everything which he had made Him affirm hitherto with relation to His divinity? This mode of discussion evidently bears the character of immediate historical reality. It testifies, at the same time, of the most lively understanding of the Old Testament. Evidently this whole discourse can be attributed only to Jesus Himself.

Verses 40-42

Vv. 40-42. “ And he went away again beyond the Jordan, into the place where John had baptized at the beginning;and he abode there. 41. And many came to him, and they said: John did no miracle; but all that John said of this man was true. 42. And many believed on him there.

As we have already said, the Synoptics (Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1; and, because of the parallelism, Luk 18:15 ) also mention this sojourn in Peraea, a little before the last Passover. As Jesus certainly could not have remained a long time at Jerusalem without the result of bringing the conflict to its decisive issue, He abandoned the capital after the feast of Dedication, and went away to resume the pilgrimage which had been interrupted by this brief journey. It was thus that He arrived in Peraea, where we find Him in this passage of John. We feel, from the apostle's tone, that this sojourn was not without pleasure for Jesus and for His first disciples. There is a charm in finding oneself, on finishing one's career, in the places where it was begun. Jesus had, moreover, the joy of gathering a harvest here which had been prepared by the faithful labor of His forerunner. It would be difficult not to recognize in this description the personal recollection of the evangelist (see Weiss).

The word again ( Joh 10:40 ) does not by any means allude to a supposed sojourn in Peraea between John 10:21-22, as Lange thought, but certainly to that of which John had spoken in John 1:28, when Jesus was at Bethany, near the Jordan, with His forerunner. The term τὸ πρῶτον (or, as the Sinaitic MS. reads, τὸ πρότερον ) contrasts these first days with His later ministry, which was accomplished in altogether different localities ( Joh 3:23 ). The meaning of the testimony which the believers of Peraea bear to Jesus is this: “If John did not himself do miracles, he did indeed at least predict everything which this one does, whose coming he announced.” John thus grew greater to their view with all the greatness of Him who had followed him and to whom he had borne testimony. The word ἐκεῖ , there, should certainly be placed, according to the reading of the Alexandrian authorities, at the end of the verse; it is on this word that the emphasis rests. This faith which is so easily developed in Peraea forms a striking contrast with the persistent and increasing unbelief of the inhabitants of Judea, which has just been described in the preceding chapters. This passage thus forms, by means of this contrast, as Luthardt remarks, the last point of the great act of accusation directed against the Jews in this part of the Gospel.

Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 10". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gsc/john-10.html.
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